Van Marwijk will have Australia on a roll for Russia, says Ryan

Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan believes Bert van Marwijk is the perfect man to maximise the Socceroos’ hopes of progressing beyond the group stage at the FIFA World Cup.

In the form of his life for Premier League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion, Ryan is likely to be the Dutchman’s go-to man between the sticks in four months when Australia take on France, Denmark and Peru in Russia.

And he views van Marwijk’s past World Cup pedigree - guiding Netherlands to the 2010 final - and extensive knowledge of the Socceroos as huge ticks in favour of the 65-year-old.

“In the situation we were in I don’t think we could have got a better fit,” Ryan said.

“He’s been successful at the pinnacle of the game and is somebody, from his time in charge of Saudi Arabia, who knows us well.

“He’d have done plenty of research for the two group games against us in qualifying for Russia, and he obviously did a great job in winning automatic qualification with the Saudis.

“He has an advantage over anyone coming in who might not have known too much about us.

“I just think with Ange (Postecoglou) stepping down we’ve managed to get the best possible solution to land someone with his coaching credibility, and the respect he has in the game.”

Ryan, 25, doesn’t know quite what to expect tactically from van Marwijk but it’s a foregone conclusion he will reintroduce a more rigid four-at-the-back system in a solidity first mindset.

“There are still some unknowns in how our past principles might change in the way we play,” he added.

“But we’ll find out more next month (in the friendlies against Norway and Colombia).

“The decision has been made and we will buy into whatever he decides in order to give us our best chance in Russia.

“Hopefully we’ll continue playing well for our clubs and put in place the changes he might want to implement.”

Casting beyond Russia, and van Marwijk’s short-tenure, Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold appears nailed on as the long-term solution.

It’s a scenario which Ryan readily embraces.

“If that was to happen, I had three years under him at Central Coast and I can’t say a bad word about him,” he declared.

“I can only thank him and praise him for the job that he’s done and continues to do, and his influence on me and my career.

“He’s helped me a lot to get to where I am today. He taught me the ins and outs of the game and what it means to be a professional.

“Between him and Ange, growing up in Australia, I don’t think there were two better mentors to have as head coaches.

“Arnie has been improving as a coach, you see that with the dominance of Sydney FC.

“If it turns out to be him (for the Socceroos) in the future, then Australia would be in good hands.”

Ryan’s acrobatics, anticipation and pin-point distribution have brought him numerous accolades on the south coast, with Brighton leaning heavily on him to help preserve EPL survival.

They sit 13th, but just three points from the drop zone going into Sunday's (AEDT) trip to third-last Stoke City.

“Some of my form here has been the best of my career, and I guess it helps also that it’s at the highest level of the game,” Ryan said, who has started all 26 league games.

“You’re required to be at the top of your game.

“After a difficult period at Valencia, not getting the game time I wanted, and then going to Genk and on to Brighton I’m enjoying the challenges of playing at this level.

“Hopefully we can survive and be safe and we’ll be there again next season.

“I’m doing my best to deal with whatever is thrown my way.”

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4 min read
Published 9 February 2018 at 4:48pm
By Dave Lewis